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International Law Research: Cases
Starting points to either collect international law sources or conduct in-depth public international law research.
International tribunal decisions can generally be located in one of a few databases of decisions, through sources compiling the decisions of a particular tribunal, or at the tribunal's website. Refer to Bluebook Rule 21.5 on international law cases to learn more about citation formats and preferred sources.
Searching across tribunals
Databases for searching across the decisions of multiple tribunals:
Search for decisions across many major international tribunals. Updated periodically, so may not contain recent decisions. The World Legal Information Institute (WorldLII), is a free, independent, and non-profit global legal research database.
Search across over 50,000 decisions of 52 international tribunals and hundreds of arbitral awards. Updated periodically, so may not contain recent decisions.
Decisions from selected tribunals
Individual tribunal decisions may be located at the tribunal's website or in specialized databases. Selected resources and tribunals are covered below. Use your preferred search engine to locate tribunal websites and specialized databases not listed.
Full-text, English-language judgments of the ICJ for "contentious cases"; i.e. cases between the Member States of the UN. Coverage: 1948 (The Corfu Channel Island cases) - current. Includes full-text judgments made available by permission of the Court. For advisory opinions, see the Lexis database International Court of Justice Advisory Opinions. For pleadings and orders of pending cases filed in 2004 forward, see International Court of Justice Filings.
Coverage begins with 1947. Source of this material is the ICJ's publication Report of Judgments, Advisory Opinions and Orders, last published in 2000. Selected documents beginning with 2001, as released and made available by the International Court of Justice prior to publication of the Report, are also included.
Coverage begins with 1954 for the Court of Justice of the European Communities; 1989 for the Court of First Instance of the European Communities (General Court); 2006 for the Civil Service Tribunal; and 1994 for the EFTA Court.
Select the relevant jurisdiction for documents, including decisions, from the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.
Includes free resource library of current trade news and resources, plus the DSC Service (summary and analysis of all WTO reports and arbitrations); a current keyword index; a database of dispute settlement tables and statistics; and a search tool for WTO cases, legal texts, and other documents. Restricted to UCI Law community members. Law VPN required.
Cases in Foreign Courts
Consult the Foreign Law Research guide, in particular the "Cases" tab, to locate cases published in foreign, as opposed to international, courts. Key decisions on international law issues in foreign courts may also be available in Oxford Reports on International Law in Domestic Courts and/or International Law Reports (see above).
Remember, judicial decisions are a subsidiary means of determining international law according to the ICJ Statute Article 38(1).
Similar to U.S. legal research, running keyword searches for cases at the start of your research can lead to overwhelming results and it can be hard to sift through them without context. Starting with secondary sources and determining which tribunals are most relevant for your situation will help you locate key cases in a targeted manner, then you can expand your research from those cases.
To search across a wide (though still not comprehensive) universe of international law cases, use Oxford Reports on International Law. This database allows keyword searching across over 5,500 case reports. The Oxford Law Citator shows connections between related cases, similar to KeyCite or Shepard's.